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The United States is in the midst of an election year but what is normally an important campaigning year for presidential candidates is unexpectedly marred by the COVID-19 outbreak that is threatening to become one of the most defining years in both modern American and world history. It could very well be defining as well for the incumbent president Donald Trump, who is eager to secure a second and final term in office.

Keys to the White House

Many theories examining the results of presidential elections as they pertain to America have been trotted out. It’s a fascinating topic understanding the behavioral patterns of any given democratic society and one that will continue to fuel debate because there’s no one guiding answer, really.

One theory proposed by Adam Lichtman in his book, ‘Keys to the White House,’ suggests that presidential election results turn primarily on the performance of the party controlling the White House, as it is measured by consequential events and defining episodes in a term.

How the Trump administration handles the next few months is most likely to be held in the balance of November’s 2020 presidential elections

What can be more defining than a pandemic? Put it another way, how the Trump administration handles the next few months is most likely to be held in the balance of November’s 2020 presidential elections and potentially determine its result one way or another; of course, this presupposes there’s no disruption to the integrity of the process and the elections are allowed to go ahead as planned.

Not since 911 has an event had as much impact on a country than the impact today’s coronavirus outbreak is rapidly having on American politics. It’s the kind of event that can unify people across political loyalties and it can be the making or the breaking of a president

At the turn of the New Year, Donald Trump was sitting pretty in the White House and looking likely to win a second term without too much fuss. So, he didn’t build the wall he’d promised many Americans he would in the last presidential race, but the economy was good and strong, providing a solid premise on which he and his supporters could safely hang their hat on for re-election. Beyond that are statistics that show incumbent presidents enjoy almost a 90% re-election rate, so long as nothing momentous occurs while in office to put them out of favour.

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At Trump’s third State of the Union address in February, he summed up his third year in office an unmistakable success. The 90-minute speech delivered with self-flattery, confidence and swagger was met with the resounding chorus of “four more years” that reached a deafening crescendo.

At the time, even bookmakers were buying what he was selling. Trump was installed as the runaway favorite to win the 2020 presidential elections – a country mile ahead of any of his Democratic counterparts, including former vice president Joe Biden.

However, that was then. Before the coronavirus pandemic reached North American shores and turned political betting markets on their heads. Now, the odds for the presidency are not so lopsided. One could argue, the current odds are tighter than an accountant’s purse, which ironically presents a fitting reminder of the present climate.

Four months since the coronavirus outbreak was first discovered in Wuhan, China, and the world is none the wiser. It has brought about untold contagion and death in many countries and it has changed the very fabric of modern life, bringing in its wake financial volatility and economic havoc, including markets crashing.

Under the ever-increasing threat of the deadly virus, there is substantial uncertainty and chaos across America. New York is fast becoming the epicenter of the virus and California and Louisiana are examples of other states that are struggling to get a handle on the rapid spread of COVID-19. In fact, Louisiana is showing one of the fastest rates of the spread of the virus in the world right now.

Nevertheless, what’s most unsettling about the coronavirus pandemic is that nobody really knows when it will end or just how severe the implications of the social and economic upheaval of the pandemic will be. One thing that is certain though, it’s going to be THE defining moment of the 2020 Presidential race, of which this holds true for not just Donald Trump’s bid but also for his opposing democratic candidates’ bids as well.

Max Anders

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